A major leak of documents has shown how countries around the world are lobbying against the reduction of fossil fuels that were supposed to be included in a critical UN scientific report on how to tackle climate change. The report is produced every six to seven years by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN body tasked with evaluating the science of climate change.
It is used by governments to decide on climate change strategies and is supposed to take part in the negotiations at the major COP26 Climate summit in Glasgow. There, countries will be asked to make significant commitments to mitigate climate change.
The documents were leaked to the Greenpeace UK’s team of investigative journalists, Unearthed. They consist of more than 32,000 submissions made by governments, companies and other interested parties to the team of scientists compiling the UN report.
They reveal how countries are lobbying behind closed doors on playing down the need to move away from fossil fuels and other critical actions that are crucial for the Paris Agreement targets to be achieved.
The documents show that Saudi Arabia, Japan and Australia are among countries insisting on keeping fossil fuels. Some wealthy nations are also questioning paying more to poorer states to move to greener technologies – an action that was agreed at the climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009. Developed nations were supposed to provide $100 billion a year in climate finance for developing countries by 2020 – a target that is yet to be met.
The leak shows countries like Saudi Arabia demand “phrases like ‘the need for urgent and accelerated mitigation actions at all scales…’ should be eliminated from the report”. A senior Australian government official also insists that closing coal-fired power plants is not necessary, even though ending the use of coal is one of the stated objectives of the COP26 Summit.
Even though carbon capture technology could cut dramatically fossil-fuels emissions, the report says CCS could play a role in the future but there are uncertainties about its feasibility. It claims “there is large ambiguity in the extent to which fossil fuels with CCS would be compatible with the 2C and 1.5C targets” as set in the Paris Agreement.
Other countries – Brazil and Argentina, two of the biggest producers of beef products and animal feed crops in the world, are strongly against evidence in the UN report that reducing meat consumption is necessary to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
“Our processes are designed to guard against lobbying – from all quarters…The review process is (and always has been) absolutely fundamental to the IPCC’s work and is a major source of the strength and credibility of our reports,” said IPCC.
The leaked documents from countries around the world that are also the biggest polluters of CO2 emissions, is proof of how business interests are directly intertwined into climate change actions and policy decisions. The world would have to make major decisions about mitigating climate change.
They would need to be moved outside the scope of short and medium-term financial interests and place a bigger focus on the long-term consequences of global warming and the cost of avoiding the responsibility of taking massive climate actions right now.
To read the original report from Unearthed, the investigative journalist unit of Greenpeace you can click here.